Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 14: Jacqueline Sullivan
Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.
My love of lettering began as a young teenager, trying to make signs for my father’s business I was frustrated trying to get the letters to look nice with my brother’s Testor’s Model Enamel paint and the dime store brush. When I got to High School and was introduced to a broad edged pen, I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. In our class we first did monoline letters with the B Speedball pen and then Roman caps with a Speedball C-2. Then we went onto Italic Lowercase letters. We ran out of time before we got to italic caps. My family still has some very early pieces around where I simply made the Lowercase letters larger to substitute for caps.
What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?
My area of expertise is paint and acrylic paint, and I am proud to be a Certifed Educator for Golden Paints. I love letters and love combining them with my mixed media paintings and bookworks. I do 90% Italic letters with a broad edged pen or pointed brush. Lately, I have been doing a lot of asemic writing – abstract markmaking that looks like it might say something. I was thrilled to come across this term on Wikipedia because it very much describes our modern calligraphic movement into abstract marks.
With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?
I have been around a long time and have been blessed to study with many people. The teachers whom I have been influenced most by are:
Jenny Hunter Groat – she taught me the importance of creativity in my life. She taught me to work from my inner core. I learned pointed brush with her, but her classes were about so much more than letters.
Sheila Waters – Sheila taught me to REALLY look at my letterforms and see all of the small nuances that make for beautiful letters. I learned to analyze the writing in historic manuscripts and bring that influence and those forms into my writing.
Reggie Ezzell – Reggie lead me into learning letterforms, other than Italic. He pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened up a world many more possibilities.
Denis Brown – His expressive movements and polyrhythmic studies were the perfect follow up to my studies with Jenny. I love and am influenced by his initiatives into letters and mark making in non traditional areas, such as glass, mylar and even milk.
What products can you not live without?
I LOVE my Speedball C nibs and Golden High Flow Acrylics. With these I can write on almost any surface. The High Flow allow me to layer my letters with my paint and build rich surfaces with both legible and asemic writing. I have been using them on canvas, paper and fabric.
What advice would you give a new calligrapher?
Lots of practice. Be passionate about your work. Study with everyone whom you can get to and afford and take it all in. Make it a lifestyle. Even if you think you don’t want to make work like that person, take the workshop anyway cause you will always learn something and those bits of knowledge will come back to you as you “grow into” your work. Be expressive in your work, put passion and feeling into what you do. Be influenced by others but develop your own voice.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
It scares me to death to get in front of a classroom. I prepare and organize extensively before a class because of a huge fear of “screwing up” in front of a class. I love the Georgia O’Keefe quote: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?
I love cooking and entertaining and nothing is more special than having a dinner table filled with artists and people whom are interested in art eating and drinking together!
You can see more of Jacqueline’s work, view her workshop schedule, and sign up for her mailing list on her blog.